Charlotte Foster


10 deodorant mistakes you need to stop making

10 deodorant mistakes you need to stop making

It’s a common daily hygiene routine – people apply deodorant to their underarms to hopefully keep body odour away.

Although putting on deodorant is a common practice, there are some mistakes people make when it comes to this personal hygiene product.

We asked skin health experts to reveal the most common mistakes people make that can reduce the ability of deodorant to do its job, and the tips to correct them.

Not knowing the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant

Antiperspirants reduce sweat, while deodorants reduce stink. According to dermatologist, Fayne Frey most antiperspirants contain aluminium salts, sometimes mixed with a zirconium salt, which bind to a protein in the sweat gland ducts.

This creates a sweat duct plug that temporarily tamps down sweat production. Deodorants, on the other hand, are topical products that either neutralise odour – using ingredients that kill some of the bacteria that contributes to the development of body odour – or simply mask it.

“They do not reduce the amount of sweat expelled and will not keep your armpits dry,” explains dermatologist, Dr Tsippora Shainhouse.

Applying it right after shaving

Be careful when swiping on deodorant or antiperspirant immediately after shaving, especially when using products with a higher alcohol content.

These can cause irritation, according to dermatologist, Dr Alisha Plotner.

Layering deodorant

You may use this technique with dry shampoo and possibly mascara, but a fresh layer of deodorant won’t keep you fresh if it’s sitting on top of yesterday’s stench.

You need to apply product to clean, dry skin, so it can adhere directly to the surface. If layered on top of an older product (especially a thick cream or solid) it’s likely to be less effective, explains Dr Plotner.

Applying it in the morning

Contrary to popular belief, you should actually be applying deodorant in the evening, before bed. Deodorants and antiperspirants are most effective on skin when sweat ducts are less active and there is minimal moisture. This can be such as in the evening and while you sleep.

“Because deodorant should always be applied to clean, dry skin, it’s best to shower in the evening, pat your skin dry with a towel, and then apply deodorant,” explains dermatologist, Dr Joel Schlessinger.

“If you miss the fresh scent of deodorant, it’s okay to apply again in the morning. However, this is more for your own comfort level than anything else.”

Not applying it everyday

This one can go either way. “Depending on your body and what type of deodorant/antiperspirant you’re using, you may not need to apply every single day," explains Dove dermatologist, Dr Alicia Barba.

Some antiperspirants are made to last 48 hours, which means daily application isn’t essential. When in doubt, read the label, or just cleanse and reapply.

Forgetting to moisturise

Dr Frey advises applying a dimethicone-based moisturiser to the armpit in the morning to minimise irritation. For a more natural alternative, spa director, Sharla Martin, recommends moisturising with coconut oil.

“Coconut oil soothes dry skin and can reduce water loss in very dry skin. It has natural antibacterial properties and is incredibly soothing to the skin in those delicate places.”

Using the wrong product

It’s important to take into consideration your skin type and any skin issues or sensitivities when choosing a deodorant.

Higher alcohol content formulas, like sprays and gels, may be irritating to sensitive skin types – as can heavily fragranced formulas, according to Dr Plotner.

“You have to take care of the skin under your arms just like you do the skin on your face,” says Dr Barba.

Not knowing the difference between regular and clinical strength

Regular antiperspirants must show a 20 per cent reduction in sweat duct plug formation, while clinical strength must show a 30 per cent reduction.

“Clinical strength antiperspirants contain a higher concentration of aluminium zirconium salts, and although they may be more effective, they may also be more irritating,” says Dr Frey.

“I advise my patients with sensitive skin to avoid antiperspirants with fragrance as well as extra strength formulas, and to look instead for products that contain dimethicone, which may also prevent irritation in susceptible individuals.”

Not considering natural formulas

Have you ever thought about using natural deodorant? Before you assume it doesn’t work, you should know this – they can be good alternatives for a few reasons.

Natural deodorants may be viable options for people with light sweating, or those who are hoping to camouflage and/or prevent mild odour, according to Dr Plotner.

Not knowing how to get it off clothes

It’s frustrating to slip on a top and realise you just got white deodorant smudges all over it. Don’t worry, there are a few proven methods to wipe away those dreaded marks.

A damp washcloth works well (just be sure to wring it out to avoid soaking your clothes). To avoid white marks all together, simply opt for a clear formula.

Image credits: Shutterstock

This article originally appeared in Reader's Digest.